Business Development Tourism Travel

ZTA committed to developing youth innovations

Tourism Innovation Challenge

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) recently closed submissions for the second edition of the Tourism Innovation Challenge, which came on the backdrop of the successful inaugural edition held in 2021.

The Challenge is a nationwide competition that promotes and supports the ideas of young innovators that have the potential to transform Zimbabwe’s tourism sector.

The past two years have been unfathomable and extremely difficult for tourism as the sector was arguably the hardest hit by the Covid-19 global pandemic. However, the period January – April 2022 saw a positive increase of 103% in tourist arrivals for Zimbabwe, indicating a positive recovery path. This has contributed to the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy and the Tourism Innovation Challenge is tapping into youth talent for innovative ideas that can transform and grow the country’s tourism sector, whilst simultaneously providing the youth with an inclusive platform to contribute to tourism. The youth dividend in innovative ideas, product diversification, market intelligence, and social trends are critical and play an essential role in the roadmap for Zimbabwe to be a must-visit destination and leader in sustainable tourism in Africa by 2030.

The 2022 edition saw the expansion of the Tourism Innovation Challenge to all 10 provinces across the country resulting in a 170% proposals submission increase compared to the 2021 edition. The notable uptake of the Tourism Innovation Challenge is encouraging as the youth are the generation whose innovations can transform our tourism and move the sector forward from the uncertainty of the pandemic through innovation and sustainable practices.

The adjudication process is currently underway in all 10 provinces where each provincial winner will be awarded US$1 000.00 (USD/RTGS equivalent) in early August 2022 as start-up capital and proceed to the national finale in September 2022 where they stand a chance to win the grand prize of US$5 000.00 (USD/RTGS equivalent) as seed capital to implement and bring their projects to life. In addition to the funding, ZTA’s patronage with the support of its stakeholders also includes workshops and an incubation and mentorship programme for a period of 3 months for the national winner and runner-ups.

The Tourism Innovation Challenge has proved to be a strategic springboard for the youth as the 2021 edition winner, Jeffrey Takunda Murungweni has been nominated in the top 5 Africa Youth in Tourism Challenge with his Trafiki Africa project whose roll-out is scheduled for August 2022. This is an example of transformational innovations with great potential that the ZTA is seeking through the Tourism Innovation Challenge. As we undertake this critical adjudication stage, we look forward to seeing all the novel ideas that will be presented by the youth, and we are excited to be providing yet another young innovator with a platform to contribute to the country’s tourism whilst developing his/her career. We encourage the participants who will not win in this edition to remain resolute with their youth innovations and continue to develop and adapt to the changes and trends, as opportunities to be identified may come up at any given time.

The ZTA acknowledges all the incredible sponsors who appreciate that tourism is a cross-cutting sector that significantly contributes to the country’s economy as the third largest foreign currency earner after mining and agriculture. These sponsors have come on board the Tourism Innovation Challenge in support of youth innovations. Sincere gratitude goes to them all: Old Mutual (Eight2Five), TechSys, Rainbow Tourism Group, Dandemutande, BancABC, African Sun, Phillips Law, Pariah State, Kukura Business Accelerator, and Zim Parks.

The youth are critical active participants in the recovery and growth of Zimbabwe’s tourism. As the Tourism Innovation Challenge continues to grow with each passing year, the ZTA is calling upon young people to follow through with this 2nd edition, identify the opportunities it presents and start crafting a roadmap to develop more impactful proposals for the 2023 edition.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende